- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 7, 2021

President-elect Joseph R. Biden said Thursday that police would have cracked down harder on the mob storming the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday if it had been Black Lives Matter protesters rather than a pro-Trump crowd.

Mr. Biden’s comments came as he laid the blame for the deadly scene squarely at the feet of President Trump.

“No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol,” Mr. Biden said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware. “We all know that’s true, and it is unacceptable.”

Mr. Biden also slammed Mr. Trump for deploying the military to clear protesters near the White House last June for a “photo opportunity” and for pressing the courts to try to overturn the election results.

“In the past four years, we’ve had a president who’s made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law clear in everything he has done,” he said.

Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, called Mr. Biden’s broader speech a missed opportunity and needlessly divisive.

“Millions of Americans had doubts about the election but didn’t sign up for a riot,” Mr. Rubio tweeted. “Using today to re-litigate the events of the last year forces people back to their respective corners.”

However, there is truth to Mr. Biden’s comments about different sets of legal rules based on race, said Darrell Miller, a law professor at Duke University.

“We have a country where an African American boy playing with a toy gun in a public park is shot to death while a white middle-aged man wielding a Confederate flag — and who knows what else — can literally break into the seat of government, plop down in the House speaker’s chair, and then have the door held for him as he exits the building,” Mr. Miller said.

During the melee at the Capitol, a U.S. Capitol Police officer shot and killed Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran who is an apparent Trump supporter.

The officer was placed on administrative leave while the incident is investigated.

Police identified at least three other people who died from medical emergencies on or near the Capitol grounds: Benjamin Phillips, 50, of Ringtown, Pennsylvania; Kevin Greeson, 55, of Athens, Alabama; and Rosanne Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw, Georgia.

Vice President-elect Sen. Kamala D. Harris, the first woman of color who will hold the position, echoed Mr. Biden in her first extensive public comments about the Capitol siege.

“We witnessed two systems of justice when we saw one that let extremists storm the United States Capitol and another that released tear gas on peaceful protesters last summer,” Ms. Harris said.

That was a reference to law enforcement’s clearing out protesters who had gathered near the White House in Lafayette Square last June to protest the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, a Black man, while in Minneapolis police custody.

Additional racial justice protests, some of which escalated into violent clashes with police, spread across the country last summer.

Protesters were fatally shot in clashes in places such as Portland, Oregon and Kenosha, Wisconsin.

On Wednesday, some protesters snapped selfies with police officers in the Capitol as the building was being overrun.

Lawmakers are demanding answers as to how a landmark such as the Capitol was so easily overrun by rioters, who trashed hallways and swiped goods from lawmakers’ offices.

Mr. Biden said the storming of the Capitol was the culmination of Mr. Trump’s years-long assault on U.S. democratic institutions.

“It was chaos,” Mr. Biden said. “They were a riotous mob. Insurrectionists. Domestic terrorists.”

Mr. Biden said people should have been seen it coming.

“[Trump] unleashed an all-out assault on our institutions of our democracy from the outset,” he said. “And [Wednesday] was the culmination of that unrelenting attack.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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